September 2, 2016

Jeremiah 15:19 Therefore this is what the Lord says:

“If you repent, I will restore you
that you may serve me;
if you utter worthy, not worthless, words,
you will be my spokesman.
Let this people turn to you,
but you must not turn to them.

There are obviously some idiosyncrasies in the Hebrew here, because the Japanese, which tends to be more literal in its translation, says, “If you return I will cause you to return.” The NIV makes more sense at first glance, but there is some hidden truth in the Japanese. If we commit of our free will to serve God, then He will cause/enable us to serve Him. The next part likewise calls for us to exercise our free will, because what comes out of our mouths is our choice. God will supply the words if we choose to speak what He is saying, but we can likewise choose to speak our own imaginations, and such words are worthless. Whether we speak at all is also our choice. As Paul said, “The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets.” (1 Corinthians 14:32) He also said that for a believer there should be no “obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking.” (Ephesians 5:4) It is amazing what comes out of the mouths of Christians sometimes! As James said, “Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.” (James 3:10) Anyone who desires to be God’s spokesperson should choose not to say anything that is inappropriate to that office. As the saying goes, “If you can’t say something good, then don’t say anything at all.” Sometimes God’s words through us may be strong, but they will not belittle, much less be out of the gutter.

I have long sought to be one who speaks what God is saying, and it is an incredible privilege when I have assurance that is going on. I also have a healthy sense of humor, and have been justifiably accused of having “pun disease,” but I must be careful that my humor doesn’t put others down. Thankfully, dirty jokes don’t even seem very funny to me any more. As far as puns go, several of the prophets and even Jesus used puns! As God told Jeremiah, I must be careful to keep Him as the criterion of what comes out of my mouth, rather than adjusting myself to the opinions of those around me. I am not to hurt needlessly, but I am not to be afraid of stepping on toes, either. As my father wrote to me, when he was acknowledging my gift for words, sometimes a scalpel is called for, but it must not be infected with pride or any such thing. If I am speaking God’s Word, sometimes it will “penetrate even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow.” (Hebrews 4:12) That can hurt! I am to choose to walk in the holiness of Christ, so that my words may accomplish His will and nothing else.

Father, looking back over what I’ve written, it’s downright scary. I must never “think up a Word,” but rather be totally submitted to You for You to supply what You want said. I know that my personality and circumstances will color what I say, but may I never degrade Your Word. May Your Word indeed accomplish everything for which You send it, even when it comes through my mouth, for Your glory alone. (Isaiah 55:10-11) Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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